This paper looks at the end of the Cold War and emergence of peace in Europe, the internal consistency that brought about the cold war and that which has prevailed in the post Cold War era. It goes deeper to explain theories post the Cold war era, its evidence and assumptions made during this period and after. Finally, it looks at the instabilities that were brought about by the Cold War in Europe.
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As the Cold War came to an end, the threat of war which had been in the offing for more than forty years was dying and there were new hope for peace. Military bases being renovated to parks, playgrounds and condos (Mearsheimer 1990, 5). Nevertheless, the past actions brought forth from the war raised an issue in Europe that concerned breaking out of another cold war. Thus, they were concerned with what actions they would take and the survival of their countries.
Countries want power and achieving this means that they need to influence others when it comes to making decisions concerning the other state. This is termed as neo-colonialism, which is an indirect form of Cold War among the super power states. The superpowers gained influence over developing nations in form of economic relief, therefore forcing the developing states to ally with them in case something happened or when it came to decision making in the international realm. However, peace was vital and people need it, the issue however came about when a state felt threatened by each other and opted for warfare to solve the dispute.
In reality, the Cold War was beneficial to many developing countries as they received funds and assistance they needed to start developing their fractured economies and military prowess but it was a different scenario for the countries that started the Cold War. The East and the West were the super powers who were ideologically different and wanted to dominate less developed countries by selling their ideas.
It was beneficial to them as these superpowers got raw materials from the developing countries as well as using the countries as markets for their finished products. The Cold War came with different ideologies that helped the under developed countries grow into developing nations. Mearsheimer (1990, 8) notes that this imbalance brought class stratification, which was broadly grouped into three classes; that is, the first world countries (developed nations), second world countries (developing nations) and third world countries (under developed countries).
Intellectuals who were concerned with security matters during the Cold War put aside their ideological differences over military policies and stability evaluations, and instead put their minds together in an attempt to find ways of preventing global warming and how to conserve and safe guard the ozone layer (Mearsheimer 1990, 5). These intellectuals turned their attention to saving the world from global warming so as to conserve the earth. Therefore, the expertise from the Cold War could be turned around and be used in current issues such as global warming and the ozone layer problem. The end of the cold war led to the dissolution of pacts made among different states in Europe, Far East, and Russia among others; hence the world was now free of their oppressors and could now begin to rely on themselves without any inclination to a superpower or ideology.
Internal consistency in the cold war was characterized by security measures taken by the participating countries. Traditionally, a state’s is first and foremost concerned about its security and the safety of its citizens. States are anarchical in nature and competition on all fronts is expected, for instance by internally building up the military or externally thorough means of diplomacy and alliances (Mearsheimer 1990, 17).
Nevertheless, countries will at most times put an emphasis on the internal structure in order to ensure security and stability. Hence, a country’s’ military might is a key issue; however this cannot be fully implemented without the use of external agents who include the strong and influential diplomats and foreign actors. This shows that for consistency to take effect in the Cold War, the participating states on either side, East or West, needed a strong military capability and strategic alliances.
These alliances were mostly from the European countries as they chose which side to align themselves with. Internal means were directly under the states control, easily managed, proficient and more likely than not able to produce real comparison between two states (Mearsheimer 1990 p. 19). Both sides of the Cold War, the East and the West, were balanced off by internal means and nuclear weapons that played a critical role in ending the war (Mearsheimer 1990, 26).
According to the peace-loving democracies theory, democracies do not go to war against other democracies and also they are not particularly placatory when facing other authoritarian states (Mearsheimer 1990, 30). This theory however cannot take credit for the Cold War constancy as the Soviet Union and its allies in Eastern Europe were not democratic.
Another theory is the obsolescence of war theory. This theory suggests that it is impossible to view and think of war as a rational way to achieve goals as current standard war had become extreme in the twentieth century. This theory fully gives an account of the stability of the Cold War as the countries involved did not want any more bloodshed that had already taken place during the first and second World Wars. This theory however did not give the difference between nuclear and conservative war. Nevertheless, a conservative war had a winner and a loser but nuclear war had no winner or loser as both sides could escape destruction from the other.
Economic liberalism theory proposes that the European community would spread out to incorporate Eastern Europe and maybe the Soviet Union would eventually bring peace and affluence to these regions. Mearsheimer (1990, 41) observes that a Western European super power is more likely to emerge and Germany would be part of this state, as well as the other European states and this would promote peace all over Europe. Economic theory advocates for economic interdependence among states meaning that since the states have to maintain peace between them, as each state is at the mercy of the other in the economic front (Mearsheimer 1990, 43)
Evidence and facts
Evidence collected from various sources shows that nuclear weapons developed during the Cold War era were responsible for the enduring peace in Europe after the Cold War. When equivalent opposing sides came forth, nuclear weapons were developed and this created a space to make peace. This evidently shows that there is a relationship between nuclear weapons and peace (Mearsheimer, 1990 21-22). States are afraid of nuclear weapons because of the devastation these weapons bring not only in the present but also in the future. The thought of going to war and using these weapons that may wipe out the globe makes states live, co-exist and maintain peace between them for the assurance of their survival. This shows the evidence that proves that nuclear weapons can be used to bring and maintain peace between two adversarial states.
However, there is no conclusive evidence which suggests that European states consider war as obsolete (Mearsheimer, 1990, p.41). War is not out dated, it only takes one country to result to war as a way of solving disputes and war would erupt again, in this case not between the two parties involved but also a chain of allies.
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Most European countries are living on the edge as they know war may break out any time. This is the reason why most of the European countries have developed nuclear weapons and have declared it so that other countries may not wage war against them. This shows that if these countries go to the great lengths of developing and building nuclear weapons for defense, then they do not think war is outdated, they may be actually arming themselves in readiness for a war that is likely to erupt.
It is assumed that nuclear weapons have brought about peace and stability in Europe. This is based on the argument that since superpowers has the economic capability to manufacture such weapons; they do so to scare away any enemies. Nuclear weapons may have brought about the tolerance amongst these states but are sure of war not erupting again and these weapons not being put to use. Since this is an assumption, it is not certain that these superpowers are not waiting for a moment to come where they can put their nuclear weapons to use and test them.
Then, why are the superpowers keen on developing these weapons and storing them in case of war? Are the super powers planning to wipe out the globe so as to test and show off their superiority when it comes to nuclear weapons? The assumption brings with it a lot of questions that cannot be answered; only speculations can be raised. On the other hand, the European super powers may be developing these weapons so as to scare their enemies who would wage war on them.
Europeans and Americans tend to assume that peace and tranquility are the usual order of things in Europe and that the first forty five years of the 1990’s were irregularities. This was comprehendible as majority of the population in Europe was born after World War II thus they do not have a direct history with war (Mearsheimer 1990, 11).
This is a wrong assumption as European state system has experienced war since its foundation, just because one has not lived in the era of war, they cannot conclude the devastating things happened in the past. Europe is not a peace and tranquility-filled place; it is filled with tolerance for each other so as to avoid wars from erupting. This has been seen significantly as the European States settle their disputes diplomatically before turning to war as a resolution this is evident from the end of the Cold War in 1991 to date.
The Cold War was basically between two different ideologies, capitalism in the West and Communism in the East. It is in human nature for human beings to try and impose superiority over others by taking up measures and actions that would instill fear on ‘lesser beings.’ Individuals or nations considering themselves as more superior are always in conflict with those they term ‘lesser beings’ because they do not share the same ideologies, feelings, beliefs and political inclinations and tend to be forceful.
This was evident in the buildup of the Cold War that characterized post World War II. In a bid to compete with one another, and hopefully outdo each other, these two fronts went to great lengths to show and secure their superiority over the other. Some of the ways that they did this include; developing and showcasing nuclear weapons, this act was commonly done during the mid nineties to the early twenties and was commonly referred to as the ‘arms race’ and was characterized by periods of high tension and suspicion.
It is recommended that these weapons be eliminated and action be taken on any state manufacturing such weapons. In addition, countries that have the weapons should eliminate them or have a policy in place that will seek to cut down the number of such weapons. These weapons are more of a liability than an investment for any country. Its adverse effects have been felt especially in Japan where the US dropped atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the Second World War and have affected the people then and continues to do so to date. It’s traumatizing to think about what would happen if all the states with nuclear weapons presently used them, these weapons should be done away with for the safety of the current and future generations.
Mearsheimer J.,1990. “Back to the Future: Instability in Europe after the Cold War.” International Security, Vol. 15, No. 1, pp. 5-56.